Yes, Blood Dragon is real. You can cease the speculation.
After some hands-on time, it’s also abundantly clear to us that Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is not your average shooting video-game. Ubisoft are definitely going for something totally tubular and radically different with this one.
Although, you’d never guess after watching the ludicrous 80’s esque opening sequence. Blood Dragon starts off with an explosive scene that introduces main character, Rex to players with him flying in on a helicopter.
Rex isn’t your typical hero either. Most of him is metal and muscle. He also has a rather snappy attitude to boot. To enforce that, Blood Dragon even lets players flip, not one, but both fingers at enemies. It’s but one of the many quirky details that you’ll find while playing.
Players take control of Rex just as the helicopter is getting closer to its destination. Rex is holding a powerful turret that literally rips enemies, as well as other objects, apart. It’s a pretty intense sequence, and a perfect example of what to expect from Blood Dragon.
You can’t even take the tutorials seriously. Blood Dragon takes great pleasure in cracking a few jokes at their expense. At one point, the tutorial even teases the player to press the button a second time in order to bring an end to various information boxes that pop up. The witty banter makes the standard training exercises quite amusing, and it actually helps set the tone for the rest of the Blood Dragon experience.
The real fun begins halfway through the tutorials. Rex has a typical blade like so many other characters in this genre, however, the way it’s used here is much more effective. Not many video-games can boast their stealth mechanics work in harmony with other game elements, but Blood Dragon manages to combine the use of stealth with blade take-downs rather well.
It’s easy to sneak up on an enemy, then quickly press the right stick to perform a take down. But it gets better. Quickly using the camera to view nearby enemies will then make it possible to chain multiple take-downs.
Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of guns to be found here. The shooting sequences are frantic and will test the player’s ability to perform under pressure. Enemies will adapt to different situations, and will resort to whatever means necessary to gain the upper hand. For instance, enemies at the beginning will often jump on vehicle turrets and unload hellfire into Rex’s manly form.
The shooting mechanics are so well-integrated and will be so familiar to Far Cry fans that it will take literally seconds to adjust to them. Rex can even perform special combos with his blade.
A bow introduced further into the story will also make for a less conventional fighting experience. It’ll be a welcome change for those who prefer to stick with less traditional weapons. Holding the trigger button for different amounts of time will result in a change of distance for the arrow. Other features have also been implemented, such as the ability to distract enemies with items.
Every kill in Blood Dragon rewards the player with experience. Different kills have unique titles, some of which will raise a few smiles. The levelling up system wasn’t shown in the demonstration, but it seems similar to Far Cry 3, enabling players to level up unlocks, new abilities and gadgets. The whole system appeared straightforward.
It’s obvious that the aim of Blood Dragon is to provide players with a nostalgic trip back to the 80’s. The amusing retro cut-scenes are a perfect example of this, consisting mainly of still/basic animation. These felt more interesting than much of what passes as story cut-scenes in modern video-games.
When playing Blood Dragon, you’ll be hard-pressed not to reminisce about the days when video-games relied on the basics to tell a story. The story has elements of sci-fi and the various plot elements initially set up are interesting enough to entice players to want to find out more about this mysterious island they’ve landed on. The various lines of cheesy dialogue also help.
The initial jump between 2D basic cut-scenes and the third dimension is a really cool concept. This retro land the developers have conceptualised really feels alive and natural, but in a quirky, unbelievable way. It’s highly reminiscent of digital worlds in other forms of entertainment, such as the one found in classic film, Tron.
From my demonstration, it wasn’t possible to see much of what the island has to offer. It’s also difficult to tell how big Blood Dragon will be. However, a brief glimpse into what comes after the initial section, shows a lot of potential for spending hours exploring the island.
The level design is so impressive that it’s hard to believe this isn’t going to be a retail release. It offers various opportunities to approach enemies in different ways. In fact, it actively encourages players to make use of everything a section has to offer when it comes to fighting enemies. In its own unorthodox way, Blood Dragon has potential to raise the bar for digital entertainment.
The various gadgets introduced from the beginning are used to make sure players are evenly matched with enemies. Useful tools, such as glasses that mark enemies, are not only handy but make basic functions less mundane. It will certainly be interesting to see how gadgets in further areas will function.
It’s difficult to preview this title without mentioning the menacing Blood Dragons. These creepy enemies are found after completing one of the early missions. Attacking them is foolish and will result in a quick and painful death. Instead, players must sneak by them(since their vision is limited). There are also ways of distracting them, such as throwing cyber hearts forcibly removed from Elite enemy corpses.
These formidable beasts are also used to attack enemies. Simply throwing a cyber heart near an enemy base will send the Blood Dragons running there for food. It’s definitely worth finding a good spot to sit back and pull up a chair so you can witness the carnage that ensues. Enemies are ruthlessly and viciously ripped apart. This offers a nice twist on the various wild life found in Far Cry 3, and it’s more than likely that other unique monsters can be found roaming the island.
The whole time spent playing this demonstration set out as it intended. Blood Dragon genuinely feels like a true retro experience. The striking scan lines that emit from the island background. The use of strong neon colors to grab the player’s attention. The same applies to the music soundtrack that pretty much consists of 16 bit era inspired tracks.
Unquestionably, an emphasis on creating a true visual and audio retro experience is one of the defining themes players will surely remember Blood Dragon for.
This glimpse at Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was nothing short of impressive. The concept behind the island, as well as the story itself were genuinely interesting and entertaining. Ubisoft certainly seem to have another winner in the acclaimed Far Cry franchise.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon not only has the potential to be one of the best surprises of 2013, it’s also offering a refreshing new outlook on what digitally distributed video-games can accomplish. Just don’t piss off those pesky Blood Dragons.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon releases this May.